Monday, 1 July 2013

Is Social Media Ruining Music?

Krystian Zimmerman claimed that ‘the destruction of music by YouTube is enormous’, in an angry tirade against a fan illicitly filming his recital. However YouTube and other forms of social media don’t really ‘destroy’ music, they have a role to play, not just in experiencing musical content but in becoming a part of the creative process.

The internet is ultimately a social tool, allowing more people than ever to become a part of the song writing process, notably in remix competitions through websites such as Soundcloud and Indaba. The basic premise is that an artist releases the parts of a song which anyone, with access to some basic software can then edit, remix and rework into their own version before submitting them to be judged by the artist. Competitions for major artists can attract hundreds of entries, (though somehow mine weren’t ever of the required quality!) This encourages a greater connection between the musician and fan; the prizes vary from the winner getting cash to, in certain cases, having their song released to the general public!

The biggest example to date was when global DJ superstar Avicii launched a collaborative project earlier this year, encouraging his fans to contribute and help write a song with him. Starting from basic chords, the song built in a different layer voted on from people’s submissions each week and by the time the song was released on 26th February, had seen over 12,000 submissions from melodies and drums to even simple sound effects, the best of which made up the finished track. It was heralded as an innovative success and led to a lucid, compelling dance track, X You that drew on a wide range of influences.

It’s the viral nature of social media that makes it such a key influence on spreading sounds and music. Mercury Prize winners the XX proved the dominance of peer to peer sharing in the launching of their sophomore album, Coexist giving the link to one UK fan and then mapping link spreading across the globe over 8 days, resulting in a beautiful, flight plan style visual that saw lines drawn across the earth from country to country.

To me, this really captures the positive effects of social media on music, the stark bright lines of social interaction set above a dark earth really demonstrating its ability to connect us regardless of conventional boundaries.

This piece was originally written while interning at FleishmanHillard for their blog, thought I'd put a version of my own up on here though as I quite like it!!

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